I don't know how many basketball fans reside in this little corner of cyberspace, but it's playoffs time. I've been a Minnesota Timberwolves fan since we were lucky enough to be blessed with a franchise, and last night saw the biggest victory the team had ever achieved.
This victory came at the expense of the Los Angeles Lakers, and provided many Minnesota basketball fans with a glimpse of possibility. Minnesota sports teams are somewhat of an anomaly in todays sports world because of the fact that the market is fairly small in comparison to LA and New York. The teams here need to be built, because we can't afford to buy them. I believe any true sports fan can look at all Minnesota sports, minus the Vikings who are nothing but a thorn in my sports loving side, and be impressed with the way the teams are able to develop competitive squads. The Twins and Timberwolves are great evidence of that.
Going back to the original intent of this commentary, I would like to provide summation of what is being called the biggest victory in franchise history. The first three quarters saw the Wolves leading with margins between 6 and 15 points, never seriously being threatened. They were making shots when it counted and playing stifling defense. But the fourth quarter turned into a different story.
Apparently, the professional NBA officials were kidnapped and gagged between the third and fourth quarters, because whoever was making the calls in the closing minutes of the quarter was definitely not of sound mind. Here's a list of the grievances, all of which I expect a personal apology for from the NBA. As a consumer of their product, I expect and deserve much higher quality.
- Kevin Garnett fouling out. Let's be realistic here, Kevin Garnett is an MVP candidate who has probably fouled out in less than 1 percent of his career games. When a player of his caliber has two fouls in the first three quarters, then racks up three more in three minutes, something stinks and it isn't the jock straps. The sixth foul, where Robert Horry took a flop, happened to be the best acting I've seen come out of LA in years.
- The playground bullying of Wally Sczerbiack. There are three distinct plays that show complete lack of high quality officiating. The first was when wally was pushed out of bounds on a crucial inbounds play. The next two were no contact, I repeat, NO CONTACT shooting fouls. The first turned into a four point play by Kobe Bryant that was the single largest factor in this game going to overtime. Replays confirmed that Kobe was untouched, unless of course the brushing of Wally's jersey against Bryant's hip is considered contact. The other foul was ridiculous. A fast break layup that failed to touch rim was whistled even though replays once again showed no contact. This time there wasn't even the brushing of a jersey. You could have fit Shaq in the gap between the two players.
- Jack Nicholson being courtside. Who's this guy kidding.
A perusal of the sports page led me to the conclusion that most knowledgeable basketball fans would consider this game to quite possibly be the worst officiating they have ever seen. Blown call after blown call could have cost the Wolves this series, but congratulations to them for overcoming the adversity and giving a foot up the ass to all those who thought the Lakers would blow them away.